May 4, 2016
Dear Parents of Students in Petite Riviere Elementary School:
The School Advisory Committee (SAC) for Petite Riviere Elementary School (PRES) appreciates the recent letter from the South Shore Regional School Board (SSRSB) outlining the current status of both Petite and Pentz schools. In addition, we would like to inform parents and community members of what the SAC has been doing and provide you our perspective on the process to date. We hope this update will motivate community members to express to the SSRSB their personal opinions on the board plans.
For the past five years, the PRES SAC has worked continuously to address our communities’ desire to have our elementary children educated near their home communities of West Dublin, Crescent Beach, Petite Riviere, Broad Cove, Cherry Hill, Vogler’s Cove, Crousetown, Mount Pleasant, and New Cumberland.
Our actions have included:
- specific meetings with school board members and elected local and provincial government officials, including the Minister of Education,
- attendance at all school board meetings where PRES issues and concerns were discussed,
- preparation in 2012-2013 of a detailed report on the feasibility of creating PRES as a HUB school, and then sharing this well-supported report with the school board at a local meeting attended by over 100 parents and community members,
- numerous letters to SSRSB outlining our “small school in the community” position.
Most recently we have reviewed and discussed the SSRSB letter that was forwarded to parents on Friday, April 29, 2016. It outlines several positive steps, such as the Minister’s assurance that both Pentz and Petite schools will remain open in 2016-2017, and her offer last winter of funding for an Additions and Alterations (A&A) to renovate and/or expand the structures of one of the schools.
Rather than accept the Minister’s funding offer and making the decision regarding which school site will receive and A&A (at an estimated cost of $6 M), the board has chosen to put off that decision and requested, for a third time, a new school build (at an estimated cost of over $12 M).
At this time, the Pentz School community only supports a request for a new build. The PRES SAC feels the A&A is a more reasonable, timely and achievable option. The PRES SAC is concerned that the board’s twice-denied request for a new build could override the Minister’s earlier offer to provide the funding for an A&A, especially give the present economic times.
We had hoped the board would make a decision to ask for an A&A this spring. Therefore, we are very disappointed that the school board plans to put off the decision until it receives a response from the provincial government sometime in late fall. The board is bound by a legislated 5 year limit to this closure uncertainty, and we are already past the 3 year mark. Since October is election time for the school board, we fear that any decision will be further put off until after the election; then, with possible new board members needing to become familiar with the issues, be further postponed.
There is not a lot of time before the end of this school year. We feel it is very important that the school board hears from community members NOW. Please call or write to let them know where you stand about their delay in accepting an A&A versus their request for a new build. Ask them to include an A&A request for our school on their priority list. Contact information is on the page below.
Thank you for your ongoing support in ensuring the children of our community continue to receive a high quality education within our community boundaries and without the negative impact of long hours of bussing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any of the SAC members (our names and email addresses available on the school website: http://petiteriviere.ednet.ns.ca/node/6)
PRES School Advisory Committee